Spooky Academics

NYU Press, our distributor and friend, is doing a very cool Halloween feature on their blog, From the Square. Visit there every day this week for new articles on haunted houses, controversial costumes and other fiendishly fun topics.

NYU Press, our distributor and friend, is doing a very cool Halloween feature on their blog, From the Square. Visit there every day this week for new articles on haunted houses, controversial costumes and other fiendishly fun topics.

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Our Indivisible Environment: Patriarch Bartholomew and How Saving the Environment Can Help Save Our Souls

intheworld His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader to Orthodox Christians the world over (300 million in all), has written an opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, titled “Our Indivisible Environment.”

The piece outlines the Orthodox Christian’s place in the ecological struggle to save our planet. Patriarch Bartholomew asserts that the spiritual has a place in this secular issue, writing “The natural environment unites us in ways that transcend doctrinal differences.” His call to action is to believers and non-believers alike, stirring both national governments and individuals to act on behalf of the environment.

In Fordham’s forthcoming book, In the World, Yet Not of the World: Social and Global Initiatives of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the public addresses and writings of Patriarch Bartholomew are assembled, highlighting his devotion to the preservation of peace and equality among all cultures and creeds.

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader to Orthodox Christians the world over (300 million in all), has written an opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, titled “Our Indivisible Environment.” The piece outlines the Orthodox Christian’s place in … Full Story

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Intersections: The Grand Concourse at 100

intersections

In November, the Grand Boulevard and Concourse, the Bronx’s most famous roadway, will celebrate its 100th anniversary. This week, the Bronx Museum of the Arts will announce the winner of an international competition that challenged designers to come up with ways in which the Grand Concourse can remain innovative, modern, and sustainable for the next 100 years.

Sergio Bessa, editor of Intersections: The Grand Concourse at 100, is the Director of Programs at the Bronx Museum, which opens an exhibit highlighting both the history of the Concourse and seven of the competition’s finalists on November 1. In an article in the New York Daily News, Bessa explained, “The Concourse is an amazing piece of urban design that has survived 100 years almost intact. It was very important for us to highlight that, but then also we wanted to explore how it will it be in next 100 years and look at how the Concourse can play a role in the future development of the borough.”

Modeled after the Champs Elysee in Paris, the Grand Concourse was lauded as one of the finest pieces of architecture and urban planning in New York upon its completion in 1909 and continues to serve today as the heartbeat of the Bronx. The Bronx Museum exhibit will run from November 1, 2009 to January 3, 2010.

In November, the Grand Boulevard and Concourse, the Bronx’s most famous roadway, will celebrate its 100th anniversary. This week, the Bronx Museum of the Arts will announce the winner of an international competition that challenged designers to come up with … Full Story

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New York Times: Allen Jones Returns to Bronx Housing Projects

An article about Allen Jones, author of The Rat That Got Away: A Bronx Memoir, appeared in the Metro Section of The New York Times on 10/9/09.

‘If I’d stayed doing what I was doing, I’d have ended up dead,’ Allen Jones says.

Allen Jones, 58, now a resident of Luxembourg, visited the Patterson Houses on Wednesday.

Allen Jones, 58, now a resident of Luxembourg, visited the Patterson Houses on Wednesday.

Mott Haven Journal
Revisiting the Neighborhood He Escaped From
By SAM DOLNICK

It had been more than 30 years since Allen Jones had returned to the Bronx housing projects where he grew up, and if the neighborhood had changed dramatically, so had he.

The last time Mr. Jones had walked through the Patterson Houses in Mott Haven, heroin addicts nodded out on park benches and drug dealers held court on crowded blocks. It was a world he was comfortable in: a drug dealer himself, Mr. Jones had an ever-growing pool of customers.

While the South Bronx infamously spiraled downward into a symbol of urban decay, Mr. Jones found an unlikely escape route. It wound through Rikers Island, a New England prep school, a religious junior college in North Carolina and Europe’s professional basketball leagues, ending with a position at an internationally respected bank in Luxembourg.

“If I’d stayed doing what I was doing, I’d have ended up dead,” said Mr. Jones, now 58, wearing a sport coat and sunglasses in front of the Morris Avenue building of his childhood.

He was back in the Bronx to promote his new book on his circuitous life, “The Rat That Got Away: A Bronx Memoir”, published by Fordham University Press. The memoir paints an earthy picture of the neighborhood in the 1950s, when the projects were home to working-class black and Latino families who pushed their children to excel, through the 1970s.

Standing 6 feet 6 inches tall, Mr. Jones strolled down the Mott Haven sidewalk this week, never mind the cane and the back, stiff from a recent surgery. He pointed out the window he nearly fell from as a toddler, and the corner “where we talked about each others’ mothers.”

He said he was taken aback at how much things had changed. The “hustler” basketball court where he learned to play — a hard foul meant a punch in the face — had been replaced with a shiny new jungle gym. Grass had regrown in the lawns he remembered as patches of dirt and trash. His parents and his younger brother had died, and his two sisters, whom he rarely spoke to, had moved away.

But Mr. Jones was also surprised, and dismayed, at all that had not changed.

“You’re not the Allen Jones from 281?” asked a weathered man in his 40s who recognized the well-dressed visitor. The men hugged and caught up on old acquaintances, most of whom Mr. Jones hadn’t heard from in decades. “We need people like you in the neighborhood!” the man shouted as he walked away.

Mr. Jones shook his head, rattled. “He had no teeth!” he said. “That kid had so much promise, and look what happened to him.” If not for his lucky breaks, Mr. Jones said, “that could be me.”

When Mr. Jones’s parents moved from Harlem to the Patterson Houses in the early 1950s, it was a step toward middle-class stability. Patterson, one of the first public housing projects in the Bronx, offered working families a refuge from the dangers of street life, said Professor Mark D. Naison, a professor of African and African-American studies and history at Fordham University and co-writer of Mr. Jones’s memoir.

The Patterson Houses, and the rest of the South Bronx, began to change in the 1960s when drugs and crime flooded the streets and middle-class families fled. Mr. Jones’s father, a taxi driver, could not afford to leave, but with a reputation for being the toughest man in the Patterson Houses, he was rarely given a hard time.

Gar Paige, a longtime family friend who recently turned 98, said the elder Mr. Jones was so strong, “I’d rather he shoot me than hit me.”

Despite his strict father, Mr. Jones gravitated toward the streets, enticed by the money, the drugs, the girls, the parties. “I was selling death to anybody who wanted to die, and people were buying,” he writes in his book.

He also made a habit of robbing people, and when he was finally arrested in 1969 at age 18, he said, he was charged with five armed robberies and possession of a deadly weapon. He faced 10 to 25 years in prison, but because of a merciful judge, he writes in the book, he was released from Rikers Island on probation after just three months.

From there, Mr. Jones began treating basketball as his escape. He trained with local legends like Nathaniel Archibold, better known as Tiny, and earned a basketball scholarship at a Massachusetts prep school — which, to his Bronx eyes, looked like “a summer camp for rich kids.”

He did well there, then later bounced from a junior college in North Carolina to Roanoke College in Virginia, and then to Europe, where he played for professional basketball teams in France and Luxembourg. He did not trust himself to return to the Bronx. “Europe was not only my opportunity,” he writes. “It was my salvation.”

He went on to have a successful career with the Amicale Steinsel team in Luxembourg, where he was a player and a coach. Using the name Daddy Cool, he was also a radio D.J. for an English-language station in Luxembourg.

After a chance meeting at a nightclub in the 1980s, Mr. Jones landed a job as a driver for a French bank in Luxembourg. He was quickly promoted into the banking department, where he learned the business and forged a career, he writes. While he was studying exchange rates, a crack epidemic swept through Mott Haven, taking many of Mr. Jones’s former friends with it.

He worked in banking for 27 years, the last 17 at the Luxembourg subsidiary of Dexia, a bank that operates principally in France, Belgium, Italy and the Iberian Peninsula. He retired in 2006 and still lives in Luxembourg, where he has an apartment with a terrace overlooking the village he has made his home.

Along the way, he married and had two children. What would they make of the Patterson Houses?

Mr. Jones shook his head. “They would be culture shocked,” he said. “It would be hard for them here. They’re not used to drama.”

An article about Allen Jones, author of The Rat That Got Away: A Bronx Memoir, appeared in the Metro Section of The New York Times on 10/9/09. ‘If I’d stayed doing what I was doing, I’d have ended up dead,’ Allen … Full Story

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Fordham University Press Partners with DigitalResearch@Fordham

The Walsh Library at Rose Hill, Fordham University

The Walsh Library at Rose Hill, Fordham University

This fall, Fordham University Press partners with Walsh Library to make select books available on DigitalResearch@Fordham. The first of these titles are books in the Institute of International Humanitarian Assistance (IIHA) series. The IIHA series helps give students an academic base for the study of humanitarian aid and train humanitarian workers to adapt within diverse crisis situations by giving them the critical skills needed to operate effectively in unfamiliar and often dangerous situations.

Part of Walsh Library, DigitalResearch@Fordham  provides open access for all scholars, researchers, and students inside and outside the Fordham community. In its beginning stages, Fordham Press hopes to use DigitalResearch@Fordham to preserve and provide online access to scholarly series and subject areas published by the Press. Readers and researchers may download and read content online, as well as bookmark and share content on social networking sites such as Digg, Facebook, Blogger, and LinkedIn.

DigitalResearch@Fordham can be accessed at DigitalResearch@Fordham or by going to the Catalogs & Collections in Library section of Fordham University website, www.fordham.edu.

This fall, Fordham University Press partners with Walsh Library to make select books available on DigitalResearch@Fordham. The first of these titles are books in the Institute of International Humanitarian Assistance (IIHA) series. The IIHA series helps give students an academic … Full Story

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